NBC's primetime schedule for the fall is regarded as an "unmitigated disaster" and is likely to result in the departure of NBC Co-chairman Ben Silverman and his top programming executive, Teri Weinberg, L.A. Weeklycolumnist Nikki Finke reported on her online Dateline Hollywood Daily, citing unnamed network insiders. Finke reported that Silverman has withdrawn from day-to-day decision-making at the network after delegating to Weinberg, his former Reveille Entertainment assistant, responsibilities that she was too inexperienced to handle. Moreover, Finke disclosed, following an in-house conflict-of-interest scandal in which Weinberg was said to have greenlit projects developed by her boyfriend, NBC has cut off its relationship with the boyfriend's company, paying off him and another writer/producer connected with the shows "to the tune of millions of dollars" and letting them shop their programs to other networks. The well-sourced Finke added, "I'm told that NBC is hoping that Silverman jumps before he is pushed. And several sources have information to believe ... he may start negotiating his out with an eye to exiting before December."


While meteorologists were predicting widespread disaster as Hurricane Gustav plowed on towards the Gulf Coast over the weekend, the major networks were forced to shift their top anchors and reporters from the Republican National Convention in St. Paul to New Orleans. The decision raised questions about the ability of the television networks to give the Republicans the same attention that they gave the Democrats last week. "We've got to cover the news," NBC News President Steve Capus told the Los Angeles Times Sunday. "We've deployed in a smart and aggressive way in both places." Brian Williams was assigned to cover the hurricane from New Orleans while Tom Brokaw headed up the network's team in St. Paul. On ABC, Charles Gibson was dispatched to New Orleans, while George Stephanopoulos was delegated the top man for the network in St. Paul. CBS will have Katie Couric in New Orleans and Bob Schieffer in St. Paul. Reporters remaining in St. Paul, it appeared, would have little to talk about, as GOP convention planners said that they would suspend most of their program for the evening and merely conduct the business required to get the event underway. On Sunday, presidential candidate John McCain said at a political rally that "we have to go from a party event to call on the nation for action -- action to help our fellow citizens in this time of tragedy and disaster." By the same token, by mid-morning it appeared that the hurricane might also turn out to be a non-story as Gustav lost strength. Analysts interviewed by the networks began talking about concern that residents of the area might once again suspect that authorities were crying wolf and would refuse to take precautions when another hurricane develops in the future.


Sony has indicated that it intends to use its movie library to push sales of its Bravia high-definition, flat-screen TV sets equipped with the Internet Video Link module. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Sony Electronics U.S./Mexico President Stan Glasgow, said, "The module costs $299, but all of the content is free. We have thousands of pieces of free content, and we will continue to add more. ... This fall, we'll also stream Hancock to Bravia owners with the Internet Video Link prior to the actual DVD release. That'll be a first. The movie is going directly from our studio to the consumer." Glasgow said that the ability of Sony sets to stream content directly from the Internet will enable it to differentiate itself from its rivals. Nevertheless, he added, he is not expecting the sets to cannibalize sales of Blu-ray players, which Sony also pioneered. "People like collecting their movies. They like owning them," he said. "While some people are comfortable downloading content, there are a lot more people who are comfortable with prepackaged media."